May 24, 2018
3 min read
As Indian companies grow and come of age, the Indian entrepreneurial community has witnessed lots of growth in home-grown tech solutions and innovative intellectual property, many of which deal with everyday problems and represent Indian answers to these very problems.
With Indian technology making waves across the world, it’s inevitable that companies from outside the Indian community end up preying on its intellectual property sooner or later.
Today, it might be one company’s intellectual property that’s targeted. Tomorrow, another company’s. In each case, the background is the same. Foreign companies thought they could get away with it because Indian companies would not be able to challenge them. Every act of intellectual property theft of patents, copyrights, and design rights from the Indian tech community is an attack on key government initiatives implemented to boost innovation, like Digital India, Make In India, and Design In India. These attacks will only serve to hamper chances of these initiatives succeeding.
In one such attack, Reverie was the target.
At Reverie, we build Indian language solutions for the average Indian, ensuring that they get to use the internet and all that it offers in their own language.
One of the verticals we work with is mobile devices – 99% of Indian language internet users access the internet from mobile. Our solutions for mobile devices start with the very basics – ensuring that mobile phones support Indian languages in both display and input.
Reverie’s fonts for Indian languages are highly legible and aesthetic high quality fonts. They provide Indian language internet users with a superior, rich content experience.
In an unfortunate turn of events, a Chinese tech firm infringed upon Reverie’s intellectual property rights by using our font library without our knowledge.
IP Law in India & The Ruling
Intellectual Property (IP) law and IP protection has never been India’s forte, and this has often come back to haunt Indian innovation. So when Reverie Language Technologies won a favourable verdict at the Delhi High Court recently, it was also a victory for Indian IP protection.
By ruling of the Delhi high court, the defendant (a Chinese tech firm) has been restrained from using Reverie’s proprietary font library software till the next date of hearing. At this ex-parte stage, only an injunction restraining the defendant from using & infringing upon the software which the plaintiff (Reverie) has a copyright on, according to the court.
Reverie’s counsel recommended that a commissioner be appointed to seize one sample each of all feature phones manufactured by the defendant. The court has allowed for such an appointment.
The court has directed the appointment of advocates Anirudh Bakhru and Gaurav Shankar as court commissioners to visit the premises of the Chinese player to check for violations. The defendants are directed to co-operate with the commission and allow these court appointed commissioners access to all their stocks and goods, according to the interim injunction of the Delhi High Court.
Eye Opening Experience
This incident has been an eye opener for us. We are sharing it with you, the larger Indian startup community, as a reminder of the need to keep our IP safe. After all, our IP is the culmination of all our efforts, work, and innovation. We can’t let Chinese companies prey on it with impunity.
It is the responsibility of the Indian startup community to be cognizant of its IP rights, and measures to ensure that these rights are respected.
According to our legal counsel Swathi Sukumar, India’s IP laws are robust, but awareness about them is often insufficient. Startups need to look at IP, not as a matter of compliance alone, but as a matter of creation of an asset, she says. Employing an in-house lawyer is a great idea for startups that are growing rapidly, because what is most needed is legal advice that takes into account the goals, strategies, and limitations of the business of the company.
Let us all make it a point to guard our hard won IP better. As our story proves, the law is on our side.
This incident was originally covered by YourStory. To read more, click here.